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Illawarra businesses positive about this year

Release Date: 28/01/2016
Businesses in the Illawarra have reason to be optimistic this year, with the Chamber’s latest Business Conditions Survey showing a surge in business confidence in the final quarter of 2015.

“The December 2015 Business Conditions Survey shows that the attitudes of Illawarra businesses about our economy are now back in step with their peers in the rest of the State.

“More than 170 businesses in the Illawarra and the South Coast took part, reporting a significant uptick in sales revenue and profits, as well as increased capital spending.

“Job prospects in the Illawarra look to be improving, with more than 16% of businesses reporting an increase in staff numbers, up from up from 10% in September 2015, and almost one in five survey respondents expecting to hire additional staff in coming months.

“In the December quarter, a spike in customer demand drove increased sales revenue and profits.  This is a marked turnaround since our last survey in September, when uncertainty about BlueScope and the future of our manufacturing industry dampened business confidence.

 “Businesses are also optimistic about the year ahead with almost half of respondents expecting the NSW economy to continue to strengthen; confidence no doubt bolstered by the material improvements in business performance in the final quarter of 2015, including the expected surge in trade in the pre-Christmas period.

“Skills shortages, however, are an issue for business in the Illawarra with one in five respondents reporting that they did not have access to suitably qualified staff. Members reported shortages in the areas of customer service, sales and marketing, accounting, and a lack of skilled chefs.

“Manufacturing remains an important segment in the Illawarra economy.  We were encouraged by the steps taken by the Federal Government to support retrenched BlueScope workers to reskill in new industries, as well as the NSW Government’s decision to the grant payroll tax concessions that helped BlueScope continue steel manufacturing at Port Kembla.

“At the same time, the Illawarra Business Chamber is of the view that the Illawarra economy remains in transition.

“While the December 2015 Business Conditions Survey shows there are ample reasons to be positive, we look forward to hearing more from Government about how business in the Illawarra will be supported to innovate and develop new opportunities to secure our economic future,” Ms Murphy concluded.

Media Contact: Rebecca Burdick 0417 135 858

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